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October 25th, 2012
06:00 AM ET

When ‘God’s will,’ rape and pregnancy collide

By Wayne Drash, CNN

(CNN) - The pregnant 12-year-old girl was strung out on heroin and looked like a walking skeleton when she arrived at the hospital. The conversation that followed, said Phoenix police chaplain John South, has stuck with him ever since.

“Do you know who the father is?” South recalled asking her.

“She said, ‘Yes, it’s my biological father. He’s the one who hooked me on heroin so he could continue to rape me whenever he wanted to.’ ”

The Protestant chaplain has consoled about 50 pregnant rape victims - typically girls raped by their fathers - in his years working with the Phoenix Police Department.

South describes himself as “pro-life,” but when it comes to dealing with a girl or woman impregnated by a rapist, he keeps his personal views to himself.

“I don’t give them a lecture or preach at them,” South said. “I’ve seen crimes beyond comprehension.”

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock stirred controversy during a debate in Indiana Tuesday when he said pregnancies from rape are “something that God intended to happen.” The instant reaction in political circles was predictable: Democrats decried him, and many conservative Republicans defended his position as steadfastly “pro-life.”

But theologians were quick with a more nuanced approach, saying the issue of pregnancies from rape strikes at the core of a timeless question: How do you explain evil in a world where God is loving?

That said, many expressed outright dismay by Mourdock’s remarks.

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South wanted to know what Bible Mourdock reads because “what he’s saying is absolutely wrong. It’s not biblical.”

The police chaplain said pregnancies from rape aren’t meant to be politicized and said the victims suffer from physical and mental wounds and are often suicidal. About 60% of the time, South surmised from his experience, the women or girls choose to give the baby up for adoption, as long as they never see the child at birth.

“I hurt for these kids,” he said. “Rape is evil.”

Rabbi Harold Kushner, author of the best-selling book “When Bad Things Happen to Good People,” said Mourdock’s remarks were off-base: “He’s invoking the will of God where it is not appropriate."

People “should have compassion for the person whose life is messed up by this and not make her an instrument for our idiosyncratic, theological commitment,” Kushner said.

“If you believe she has no right to terminate that pregnancy, you're free to believe that,” Kushner said. “But for you to write your preferences into law and compel another person to mess her life up because of what you believe, I think you're going too far.”

“I continue to be bemused by the ultraconservative lawmakers who say they want smaller government and less government intrusion into people’s lives, except when it comes to who you can marry and how many children you should have.”

Plenty of liberal Christians bemoaned how Mourdock was being perceived by some as the face of American Christianity.

"Once again, expressions of Christian faith that honor the rights of women to choose their own health care options and what happens to their bodies are not seen or heard," wrote the Rev. Barbara Kershner Daniel, who pastors the Evangelical Reformed United Church of Christ of Frederick, Maryland, in a message that she circulated via email.

"The lack of another voice, another perspective, another vision from the Christian community leaves an impression that all Christians share this single perspective about pregnancy through rape," she wrote.

Father Tom Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University, said he found Mourdock’s comments troubling from a Catholic perspective because “God does not want rape to happen.”

“Someone getting pregnant through rape simply means biology continues to function,” Reese said. “That doesn’t mean God wills it.

“If we look at the Scriptures, we see a God who weeps with those going through pain, who is compassionate for those who suffer and condemns those who do injustice,” Reese said

During the Tuesday debate, Mourdock was explaining his opposition to abortion in cases of rape or incest when he made his remark. “I came to realize life is a gift from God, and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen,” said Mourdock, the Indiana state treasurer.

Amid the uproar Wednesday, Mourdock sought to clarify his comments, saying he was sorry if he offended anyone but said his comments were twisted and distorted for political gain. “The God that I worship would never, ever want to see evil done,” he said.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Paul Root Wolpe, the director for the Center of Ethics at Emory University, said Mourdock’s comments were the equivalent “of saying you shouldn't pull people out of the rubble because God intended the earthquake to happen or we shouldn't try to cure disease because it's God who gave us the disease,” Wolpe said.

"That perspective was theologically rejected by virtually every major religion a long, long time ago,” Wolpe added.

Mourdock has been an active member of Christian Fellowship Church in Evansville, Indiana, for nearly two decades, according to Mike Deeg, the executive pastor of the 2,000-plus member nondenominational evangelical church.

Mourdock has gone on missions trips with a group connected to the church to Bolivia and is well-regarded among congregants Deeg said.

Deeg says the church tries to remain largely out of politics. “We don’t think God is Republican or a Democrat,” he said by phone from Evansville, noting they encourage members to vote, the church just doesn’t say for whom.

The pastor said of what he has read about Mourdock’s remarks, they largely lined up with the church’s teachings on the sanctity of life and their belief that life begins at conception.

“I think rape is a horrible thing, and I think God would condemn rape as horrible,” Deeg said. “I think we’re made in the image of God regardless,” he added, “I don’t think the circumstances dictate whether God knows us and loves us, regardless of how our conception comes about.”

South, the chaplain in Phoenix, said the 12-year-old girl he met years ago opted for an abortion and her father was ultimately convicted of rape. He said he grappled often with “why she was subjected to such horrendous pain and torture, mentally, physically and emotionally.”

“Did it shake my faith? No,” South said. “Did I ask God why? Of course.”

CNN’s Eric Marrapodi contributed to this report

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Rape • Women's issues

soundoff (4,449 Responses)
  1. Larry42

    If anyone is deserving of protection, is it not the most innocent and vulnerable of all humans: an unborn child ??!?

    Convicted murderers are sometimes executed FOR THEIR OWN WILLFUL ACTIONS. They are the opposite of "innocent". Why can't liberals understand the simplest difference ?

    October 25, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  2. snowboarder

    attributing anything to "gods will" is intellectually dishonest.

    October 25, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • Atheist Hunter

      God wills will be done! With or without you!

      October 25, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • snowboarder

      hunter – your religion is just another of the myriad of deities, religions and doctrines invented by man.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Wrong again! My God is the ONLY God! The rest are fakes! You'll see, not to worry! His name is Jehovah, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the End, the first, the last, I AM! You'll meet him, don't worry.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • snowboarder

      hunter – you're just plain funny. "my god is real. all others are fake."

      it takes a real m0r0n to say that with a straight face.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • Atheist Hunter

      snowboarder...........remember this day and this comment. It will haunt you one day. You can't find God cause you're too busy thinking you're a know it all. Really, humans are not that smart to think they know everything when they are just a creation.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • mama k

      I like what I saw that someone posted the other day and very true (I may not have it exactly):

      God has not gone anywhere except where man has taken him.

      In any event, it's pretty obvious after studying Christianity that it is a complete fabrication by men and it is rehashed. That's the tell-tale sign for something with a faulty foundation. Something that some people believe in where they cannot prove any of their major events involving an interface with a supposed higher being. People need to wake up and realize spam existed long before computers.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • 12345

      Atheist Hunter – The truth is that you don't want to know the truth. Whether or not humans are a creation in some sense is irrelevant. It is clear that there is no good omnipotent god. Evil, perhaps, but unlikely.

      You are closing off your mind to any possibility other than what somebody has taught you. You can be smarter than that, but you choose not to because you are afraid. Look deep down and you may begin to realize that what you are saying is false.

      October 25, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
  3. 12345

    After having these conversations repeatedly, you begin to realize that there is no hope for these people in recognizing the delusion. They are too heavily invested in it. The reason they can't acknowledge the obvious truth is that they can't.

    I can just imagine the terror one would feel if they truly thought they were going to live forever and that everything they do is the will of an all powerful benevolent being who is going to rescue they from anything that isn't in his benevolent plan, and then they realized it wasn't true. Most would not be able to deal with this, so they'll think and say anything to protect themselves from reality.

    October 25, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • Atheist Hunter

      12345........the reason you can't acknowledge the truth is that you eyes have been blinded by satan and selfishness! I can imagine the terr one would feel if they truly thought that there was not God and that they would just blink out to black someday and wake up standing before God and sentenced to an eternity of burning in he ll. Whose got more to lose? Me or you?

      October 25, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • snowboarder

      "satan" lol.

      you just can't make this stuff up.

      i often wonder if the depth of religious belief is a genetic trait or just a testament to the quality of indoctrination.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • 12345

      Atheist Hunter – Yes, if I appeared before a god after death and was sentenced to an eternity of burning in hell, that would of course be inconceivably awful.

      Don't get me wrong, I would love to believe that I am going to live forever and that god has a plan for me. That would be incredible.

      But it's just not true. Sorry.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • Atheist Hunter

      snowboarder
      "satan" lol.........yeah buddy, Satan's laughing with you right now! He's got you on his guest list, awaiting your arrival. Better laugh now, won't be too funny then! He's you father the devil and you don't even have a clue cause you're in the narcissist dark! I've witnessed God's power! You are sadly, sadly deceived.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • snowboarder

      sorry hunter, it is all colossal BS.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • 12345

      Atheist Hunter – You actually appear to revel in the fact that you believe others are going to burn in hell. And while they are burning and screaming they'll be thinking Atheist Hunter was right, I wish I had listened to Atheist Hunter!

      Your desire for the torture of others is evil and narcissistic. Think about it.

      October 25, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
  4. Ameri2010

    Republicans are not running on a religious right platform. Where did you hear such garbage? Republicans are concerned with the economy and employment.

    October 25, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • Huff

      Its election year. The Dems will latch onto any minor story and spin it for maximum political traction and gains. I like most Reps. disagree with Mourdocks views but the left has taken it further. Mourdocks point was that a child shouldn't be blamed and rejected based on how they were conceived. I for one am a pro-choice conservative republican.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Huff.........God is the giver and taker of life. You're just confused! He decides if your life is of value or not. You talk like Hitler!

      October 25, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • ii2bcnii

      Republicans do run on a religious platform.
      To deny this is to be utterly retarded.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:29 am |
  5. Ruth C

    look at his face he looks like a rapist. Im starting to think that these pro life fanatics are child molesters covering up their own deeds

    October 25, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Another selfish narcissist!

      October 25, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • 12345

      overkill

      October 25, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  6. Mark

    USA is progressive country that just doesn't need people thrusting their own agenda in garb of God's will. Evil is evil and God did not intend it to happen. If abortion is against God's gift of life then all medical life support/ventilation systems are impediment in God's will to take that gift back. Instead of law let people decide if they want medical intevention – abortion/life support systems – or let things happen as they would without any intervention. Regardless on viws on abortion, I think we can all agree that God does need mortal support for it to prevail. It has prevailed on humand kind for centuries and will continue till end of time wihtout any Laws and statutes to help propogate it.

    October 25, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • Larry42

      There is a difference between saving life and taking life. They are opposites.
      It is not about "interfering with the will of God". It is about recognizing that the will of God will always be with respecting and saving life.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • Ruth C

      so is it ok to kill people on deathrow

      October 25, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • Larry42

      People on death row have been placed there by their own willful actions. they are NOT innocent. The difference is crystal clear to anyone who can think rationally.

      October 25, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
  7. organically

    Religion is the biggest scam in the history of humanity and based on hypocrisy, proved for the millionth time by this knucklehead.

    October 25, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • CP in FL

      I agree 100%. Anyone who believes in the magic sky daddy is not capable of rational thought.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Good luck with that on judgement day!

      October 25, 2012 at 11:24 am |
  8. Atheist Hunter

    2 Timothy 3:1-5, 8-9
    Godlessness in the Last Days
    “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.” (ESV)

    October 25, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • snowboarder

      hunter – the bible is a collection of occasionally noble myths. nothing more.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • CP in FL

      Save your bible bullsh!t. None of it is true. It is not the word of god, it is the word of man.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:21 am |
  9. Ameri2010

    CNN and lefties are too funny. At what point has any Republican president put forth energy to overturn Wade vs Roe. Personal beliefs and social issues are not top priority. Economics should be our number one concern. We need to turn the economy around and not worry about who is doing what in their personal life. The only people making a fuss about ab*rtion rights are extreme lefties.

    October 25, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Yeah, kill the babies and collect the money! Spoken like true selfish narcissist!

      October 25, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • Huff

      The GOP won't overturn Roe vs. Wade. They'd have the entire Dem party against such and numerous pro-choice Republicans (myself included) that wouldn't support overturning it.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • oshptest

      then they should stop taking money from Christians and paying lip service to how awful it is.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:18 am |
  10. Closet Atheist

    If GOP doesn't stop this religious nonsense, they may never win another election ever again.

    We'll definitely end up like Greece of Obama gets his way....

    October 25, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • Larry42

      Why is not wanting to allow killing of babies considered "religious nonsense" ?
      Seriously; think about it. What is really wrong with opposing abortion ?

      If anyone is desreving of protection, is it not the most innocent a vulnerable among us ?
      Even from a scientific point of view, the only unabiguously identifiable point, which does not depend on mere opinion or religious belief, is the point of conception. What is wrong with wanting to protect huam life ?

      October 25, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • Huff

      The difference in views on abortion come from differences in how a person views conception and life. If you feel abortion if murder then you're against it. If you believe life begins at birth then your views may differ completely. Neither side is going to sway the other one bit. They have differing views. I am a pro-choice conservative but can understand someones anti-abortion views and they should understand mine but not necessarily agree. I do not try to shove my views on them and reject their attempts to force their views onto me.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • Larry42

      Every moral decision will involve gray areas and opinions.
      But that is exactly why we should look for an unambiguously-identifiable, scientifically recognized point.
      We all agree that "innocent life should be protected". Even the most pro-choice people would usually concede that a baby cannot be killed 5 minutes before birth.
      But stop and think: every moment before that is just a gray area....just an opinion. Even a medical opinion is just an opinion. Fetuses are born and viable at younger and younger ages continually. There is no sharp line at 5 minutes, or 5 days, or 100 days, etc....
      So every point, back to the point of conception, is just an opinion or belief. The point of conception is the SCIENTIFICALLY DEFINABLE POINT at which the "human life" began.

      So even if one wishes to be completely non-religious and scientifically rigorous about it, the point of conception is the only logical point at which to begin enforcing the human ethical value of "protecting innocent life".

      October 25, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • Huff

      Larry, thats your opinion. To many conception is just a point where a baby MIGHT be born 9 months later. Not all conceptions result in a birth, nature ends many many. To some religious an unborn child has no sole and won't until their 1st breath and to them thats when life begins. That is why I say neither side will convince the other. They see things from different point of views. However, I respect others views...but they do not respect mine.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • Larry42

      Huff: Life and death happen all the time. The DIFFERENCE is that we protect life. An inadvertent, or natural death, takes place and that is nature. We don't allow murder just because people eventually die. A natural death, or fertilized egg that does not attach to the womb and grow, is a natural occurrence. An abortion is a willful act. Protection of innocent life is a value held by EVERY religion and moral/ethical philosophy. Yet all those also recognize a difference between willful killing and natural death.
      By contrast, the only real "logical" justification FOR abortion is that "it might be really, really inconvenient to have this baby."

      October 25, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
  11. us_1776

    Please voters, do not vote for any more of these Tea Bag i d i o t s.

    They are an embarrassment to our country.

    The Dark Ages called and they want their Tea Bag-gers back.

    .

    October 25, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • Huff

      Carter called Obama and said he want's his views back. Sorry but I don't want to return to the failed policies of Carter and thats exactly what Obama is pushing on us all.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:34 am |
  12. Theen Allah Fat Mullah (the Original Hinduism Source.......)

    why talk about sick people? Religious or atheists.

    October 25, 2012 at 11:14 am |
  13. Deborah

    I am a registered Republican. I am 52 years old and I have voted Republican in every election since I turned 18 and I make sure I turn out for all of them. But no more. When the Republicans let the radical "Our Country was founded on Christian values" set highjack the party they lost me. We are a secularist country. Until the Republican Party remembers that and quits trying to shove their god and their "morals" down everyone's throat I will be voting Democrat. A woman's body is her own, and whatever gender a consenting adult chooses to love and marry is their RIGHT and no one should be able to make someone else's decision for them based on some book written over two thousand years ago by some desert dwelling illiterate individuals. It is time to make these people understand that THEIR religion does not set OUR laws. See you at the polls.

    October 25, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • Closet Atheist

      You're not alone there. Why the GOP let the fringe, right-wing christian lunatics hijack the party is beyond me. Catastrophic for the party.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • Huff

      I do agree for the most part that the radical religious right often goes way too far but that doesn't mean I can support the radical socialist left instead. Both radical sides are tearing apart their respective parties.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • oshptest

      We desperately need more than 2 parties in this country.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • Feral Urchin

      Thank you for that!

      October 25, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • Aaron

      Amen to that

      October 25, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • NCL

      Well said Deborah! BRAVO!!

      October 25, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • ialsoagree

      I don't know whether you really are a republican or not, but I like to think people on the internet generally try to be honest – peraps that's just naive.

      In any event, I'm a pretty far left leaning liberal, and I would suggest that you look at third party candidates, rather than just run to the "other party."

      We're only a 2 party country because we choose to be. If everyone "threw their vote away" on a third party candidate, things in our country could be a lot different.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • ReenB

      Very well said. I just left the voting booth hoping more people display logic like this. Thanks for being a voice of reason.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • Closet Atheist

      @ Huff

      Agreed there too!!

      I don't know which is worse...

      October 25, 2012 at 11:33 am |
  14. Proud to be a pagan

    Thank god for the separation of church and state! Amen brother

    October 25, 2012 at 11:14 am |
  15. jp

    As newspaper or media reporters are you not obligated to report FACTS?? well the fact is this; there is NO evidence that there is a god, whatsoever and even if there was, there is NO evidence that any human being has pipeline to the thoughts and motives of any deity. So please call BULLS**T every time some phony politician tells you what "god's will" is. THE FACT IS, they're lying

    October 25, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • david

      Jp,

      Please provide evidence there is no God. thanks.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • Brian

      Lack of evidence doesn't tell you if something is true or not. It suggests whether or not you should believe it. Those are two different things. I have no evidence that you drive a silver car. That doesn't mean you don't drive one.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • Feral Urchin

      @David

      JP is not stating there is evidence that God is non-existent. Instead he is stating (correctly, I think) that there is no evidence that God exists.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • CP in FL

      david – The burden of proof is on the side that is claiming the magic sky daddy. If you are going to make ridiculous claims, you better have more than some old books written by nomads thousands of years ago as evidence. There is no god, deal with it.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • Aaron

      Jp

      There's no proof that wind exists but you still believe the weatherman

      October 25, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • CP in FL

      Aaron – there is plenty of evidence that wind exists you nitwit. Have you ever seen a tornado? You believers are dumb as a box of rocks.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:29 am |
  16. Kevin

    Yes!! Nice work CNN – we've only got 12 days until the Election. Thanks for continuing the fight for Obama 2012!!!!

    October 25, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • CP in FL

      So its CNN's fault that Republican U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock made these ridiculous claims about god's will and r a p e?

      October 25, 2012 at 11:32 am |
  17. DNC

    CNN, this does not deserve higher billing than Trump's offer OR the Bengazi story. Quit trying to get Obama re-elected and report the news.

    October 25, 2012 at 11:13 am |
  18. Ronald Raygun

    this is a good example of whats wrong with the republican party

    October 25, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • Huff

      The Republican party isn't in support of his views. Most prominent Republicans including Romney have condemned his statements and stated they to not agree with them. But the left will spin for political gains just the same.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • teve N.

      @Huff – Romney has said more than one in the past few days that he still stands behind Mourdoch 100%. Sad, honestly. I live in Massachusetts and the Romney we had was actually someone I'd consider voting for. Not the Romney we have now, unfortunately.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • Huff

      Romney stated that he does NOT agree with Mourdocks statements. Nor does the majority of the GOP party. But the left has spun it for maximum political gains. A child shouldn't be blamed or rejected based on how they were conceived and that was Mourdocks point.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:25 am |
  19. Corkpuller

    Will all the Atheists please line up on the Left.

    October 25, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • Humberto

      You believe in Mittens God ?

      October 25, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • Larry42

      Yes, I believe in "Mitten's God", who is the one God.
      There may be subtle difference in doctrines between deists of all sorts, but that is still fundamentally different than the amoralists who worship only selfishness and "what can I get away with".

      October 25, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  20. Larry42

    CNN Is really pulling out all the stops in creating anti-Romney fantasy scenarios and apologizing for Obama or trying to make sense of his failed policies.

    October 25, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • Scott

      That's part of the Obama Re-election Committee's, errrr I mean main stream media's plan.

      Scott

      October 25, 2012 at 11:15 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.